Bryce Canyon NPS Hiking

Did you know that June is designated as Great Outdoors Month each year through a Presidential Proclamation that says “Great Outdoors Month is a time for all Americans to share in the natural splendor of which we are all proud inheritors.

Whether camping, fishing, rock climbing, or playing in a neighborhood park, nature offers each of us the opportunity to get active, explore, and strengthen our bonds with family and friends. This month, let us celebrate our natural heritage by experiencing it together.”

On our RV trip around the USA, we did a lot of hiking as a family in America’s National Parks. This month, let’s purposely put the electronic media and gadgets aside and take the time to get out and explore this beautiful country we live in!

7 Benefits of Hiking in the Great Outdoors With Your Kids

1. Gain perseverance

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Hiking around the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon

I am a climb to the top of the mountain kind of girl. In all areas of my life, I like having a specific goal to accomplish, so hiking is the perfect activity for me. What goes up, must come down. You have no choice in this. I love seeing my kids persevere through times when they are weary and think they can’t go on. Hiking is a perfect way to show them they can push through and make it to the top or the end of the trail if they are determined enough!

2.  Builds endurance

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At the top of Weeping Rock in Zion National Park

It’s always motivating to keep going when you are hot, tired or feeling weak when you see little kids and much older adults pushing through on the same hike. If they can do it, you most certainly can! I love the friendliness of fellow hikers greeting and motivating one another while enduring the same trail.

3. Builds an appreciation for our country

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Picnicking on the lawn outside Zion’s Lodge.

I wouldn’t consider myself “outdoorsy” but since moving to Arizona I have grown to love hiking. I have seen majestic views, interesting landscapes, and wildlife that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I didn’t realize how many international tourists come to our country just to see the beauty of our National Parks, that just doesn’t exist anywhere else!

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4. Affordable entertainment for the whole family

After we hiked The Narrows in Zion, our daughter said that must’ve been really expensive! She couldn’t believe that doing such an amazing thing as a family was actually free! (Or just the cost of our National Park Annual Pass of $80). We pack our lunches when we hike too, so we can stop at our convenience and enjoy a little picnic along the way. Entertaining kids during the summertime can be very costly for large families, so spending quality time in our Nation’s parks is a really inexpensive way to have fun quality time together.

5. Builds physical strength

Staying healthy and physically fit should be a priority for every family. No matter where you are, there are always a variety of trails and hikes to choose from depending on what your family is up for. It’s important to keep active as a family and hiking together is a perfect way to stay physically fit. Some days you may feel like doing a leisurely path while other days you may be up for a more strenuous climb. Whatever your abilities, there is a trail for you!

6. Builds knowledge

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A lot of trails have signs telling about the surrounding plants and landscape. National Parks also have visitors centers and museums that you can further learn the history of the area as well. The NPS Junior Ranger program is an excellent way to motivate kids to learn through a workbook that needs to be completed and signed off by a Park Ranger in order to get each park badge. It’s a fun and free thing for the kids to collect.

7. Builds connection

Our family has enjoyed many laughs and conversations together along the trails. Getting out in nature helps you forget about any stress and opens up an opportunity for casually connecting with your loved ones.

Take time this month to get outside and celebrate Great Outdoors Month with your family!

Utah-Olympic-Park-Family-Fun

Utah Olympic Park was the perfect day trip from Salt Lake City. It was a beautiful 1/2 hour drive from our Salt Lake City KOA. We had a blast, surrounded by beautiful scenery, great 90’s music piped throughout and fun active adventures all day long. Dad is a past Olympian, so of course we are a family who loves anything to do with the winter Olympics!

With our gold wristbands we were able to experience all of the fun activities as we wanted throughout the day. These unlimited, all day wristbands cost $65 for adults and $40 for kids 12 and under.  The kids weren’t old enough to do the bobsled run yet, as you have to be 14. There is an additional cost for that, but they’ve all already put it on their teenage bucket list.

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We started out at the hardest ropes adventure course in the middle of the bobsled track. I chickened out but the rest of the family had a ball accomplishing the two courses here.  Yes, my children are up on that top level!

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Afterward, the kids did the zipline which ended at the drop tower. I just love that all of my kids are adventurous and willing to try all of these challenges. They certainly didn’t get this from me.

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I experienced ziplining for the first time here. Only one of the boys weighed enough to do the extreme zipline and he really wanted a partner to go with him, so I decided to join him. The guy working the cables promised me I would enjoy it, if I just tried it. I’m not a big fan of heights nor am I an avid thrill seeker, so I was hesitant. But, he was right, it was quite fun and I had no problem tackling the smaller lines after. I’m glad that I didn’t read that this zipline is one of the steepest in the world before I did it!

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The Alpine Slide was new for all of us and was probably our favorite activity. We rode the chairlift up the mountain several times, just to take that slide down again and again. The views were absolutely stunning!

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One of the most exciting highlights of the day was sitting and watching athletes train for their skiing events by going down these slopes and into the pool. It was so fun sitting there having our picnic lunch and watching the talent. They even have a kids camp/private lessons that our kids would love to try one day! The cool thing about this too, is that this is free. You can just bring lunch and come sit and watch these guys if nothing else.

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It was so exciting knowing that we were in Olympian territory. The reminders of Salt Lake City’s 2002 Olympic games were all around and we had an amazing family day together. We all highly recommend this park the next time you visit Utah!

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Utah Olympic Park generously comped our family’s day gold wristbands. Any written review is 100% my honest opinion.

Hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park was our family favorite excursion we did on our RV adventure around the USA.

The river hike exceeded all our expectations and I highly recommend everyone put this on their bucket list if you haven’t yet been to Utah’s First National Park. Even if you’ve already got activities such as going whale watching california or going sky diving, adding this hike to your list is another goal to aim towards.
It was absolutely breathtaking and really a unique experience.

The Narrows Family Hike in Zion National Park

What is The Narrows Hike?

The Virgin River has carved an amazing gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon. The Narrows river hike is definitely an unforgettable experience with its soaring walls, sandstone grottos, and hanging gardens. You access the river hike by taking the Zion National Park shuttle from the Visitor Center to the last stop The Temple of Sinawava. From there you follow the signs for the River Walk and hike one mile down on the paved path until it ends at the Narrows and wade on in!

TIP: We had the kids wear their regular tennis shoes to hike the River Walk and then change into their water shoes once they got there. We just left our tennis shoes and socks up on the banks while we were in the river. The kids were very happy to have dry shoes and socks to put on at the end. Keith and I hadn’t brought a change of footwear and wished we would’ve.

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Eagle at Lower Antelope

Our guide pointed out various rock formations throughout the canyon.
Can you see the eagle from a postage stamp?

Lower Antelope Canyon was the highlight of our two day trip to the Lake Powell area in northern Arizona. Our kids just loved this, as did we! It’s always nice to find a beauty that the entire family can enjoy together. If you are looking for an amazing place to visit, you might be interested in these antelope canyon tours, so you can have an amazing vacation for you and your family.

The slot canyon, located on Navajo Nation land, was named for the herds of pronghorn antelope that once roamed the area long ago.

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There are two options you can tour- Lower and Upper Antelope Canyons.

They are actually across the street from one another but are quite different. We chose to do Lower Antelope because it is longer, less crowded and cheaper in comparison. In order to go through the canyon, you must book a tour but you can do so by just driving to the parking lot and signing up. We did this and easily got on the next tour and were on our way within 10 minutes of arriving around 11 am. Our guide was a student at the University of Arizona, who is a native of the area. Our kids were quick to follow her and led our group of 12 the entire way!

down antelope canyon

We paid $28 for each adult (13 and older) and the kids were $20 which includes a $8 Navajo Park Permit; Kids 6 and under are free. You can only pay by cash (or travelers checks). Tours start at 8:30 AM and end at 4 PM and are scheduled every 20 minutes. They usually last about an hour but can also depend on your guide and group. Ours definitely went longer!

The canyon is a photographer’s paradise and our entire group was constantly snapping photos. Lower Antelope Canyon is open seven days a week year round. Be aware that they will close Antelope Canyon for any rain forecast around Page due to possible flash floods risk.

family lower antelope

The upper canyon is an easier walk because it is more spacious at the base, but the lower one we did requires a little more effort with it’s ladders and tight quarters at times, which actually adds to the adventure. Our whole family was in awe and highly recommend doing Lower Antelope if you come to Page, Arizona.

lower antelope scenery

Have you visited Antelope Canyon yet?

“Don’t worry about a thing ‘cause every little thing is going to be alright….”

A young guy sporting only his swim trunks and a guitar belted out the popular Bob Marley song on the banks of Lake Powell and his words were a complete blessing to me. His singing, along with the majestic scenery, in front of me brought a feeling of peace over me and I instantly dubbed this tune our family theme song for this trip.

Yesterday we took off on our big journey across the USA. Our first stop is two nights at Lake Powell in Page, Arizona. Overall we had a perfect first day, with a few minor inconveniences.

Lake Powell Arizona Family RV Trip

How breathtaking is this spot?

When I heard those lyrics sung at sunset tonight, it set the tone of the trip for me. He was exactly right, little things are going to happen throughout this entire adventure, but it reminded me to brush those off and focus on the big picture.

Lake Powell Arizona Family RV Trip

We left our home a couple hours later than we had hoped to yesterday morning. This put us further in to the heat of the day which meant pulling over on the side of the hilly northern Arizona freeways to calm our RV (otherwise known as Ally B) down so she didn’t totally overheat. Ally B is pulling quite the load as you can see, so no one complained about giving her little breaks to regroup her composure, even though we had to do it quite a bit.

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I’m a sucker for any National Awareness Day. As a big believer in intentionality, these ‘Days’ simply bring attention to something to be mindful of. I like the thought of people everywhere banding together to do something positive across the nation. Last month we celebrated Earth Day, Giving Day and Donate Life Day.

May is Bike Month

 

May is National Bike Month and today specifically National Ride Your Bike to School Day! I excitedly mentioned to the kids that today was going to be National Ride Your Bike to School Day. I pictured us up early, having a healthy breakfast and then riding the boys a couple of miles to the middle school on a beautiful Arizona morning.

Instead, the boys looked at me blankly with a “Really? Do we have to?” OK maybe it sounded cuter than the reality would be. They do have trouble getting up at 6:15 to get everything done and head out the door to the bus stop at 7ish. I do make them wear helmets when they ride, so I guess that wouldn’t be good for the hairdo either. Our school district isn’t actually honoring the day, so I guess I’ll let them off the hook.

Daughter dear on the other hand was really into the idea, most likely because she walks across the street every day anyway. Riding her bike would be an easy novelty, so looks like she’ll represent.

Bike and Roll Chicago

We just rented bikes in downtown Chicago right after Easter. The kids were so excited to ride along the waterfront paths of Lake Michigan, but bummed that they couldn’t actually pedal down Michigan Avenue!

Millineum Park bike rentals

Bike and Roll rentals is located at the northern tip of Millennium Park. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to ride through the Park, so you are limited to head east to the lake paths. This really is easy and way less stressful than having to navigate city traffic for sure. Just being on a bike brings a sense of freedom to children no matter where you are!

Riding Along Lake Michigan

Riding Bikes in Chicago

In honor of National Bike Month, maybe we can be more intentional in dusting the cobwebs off the spokes, pumping up the tires and heading out when it really is a good time for us! I know we’re going to get a lot of bike time when we head off on this camping adventure for sure.

Do you celebrate National Bike to School Day where you live?

You’re doing what??

Do you ever shake your head in bewilderment as you look at your family’s weekend calendar? How in the world am I going to get all of these kids to their sports and activities across the valley with Hubby on the road? I sometimes wonder when life made a turn and I became a weeknight and weekend Super Shuttle driver. Maybe this is why we all long for those lazy days of summer where the hours and days are our own.

Keith and I talked years ago about how cool it would be to buy an RV and travel around the United States exploring as a family. Yes, we decided back when, let’s do it. We’ll do it when the boys are headed to 7th grade and baby girl to 6th. Perfect. It’s down the road aways, so nothing to worry about, but it’s a fun dream to have.

Well, the time is here. The boys are finishing up their first year of middle school as our girl is getting close to bidding farewell to elementary school. Do we dare talk of those long ago plans we conjured up? We didn’t really mean it or did we? We’ve never even gone camping as a family. We love traveling and adventure but are we courageous enough to make this dream a reality?

I guess we are. We are going for it. Our family will be giving up life as we know it and traveling across America’s highways in a quest for family bonding and fun along the way. We’re just taking a break from it all. The sports. The homework. The busyness. It will be here I’m sure when we return.

Life is passing us by every day my friends. I know I don’t want any regrets when my kids leave home in what will be here before you know it. I’m not into the I should’ve, could’ve, would’ve but instead I didn’t. I want to live in the now and enjoy these kids while they are still enjoyable!

Plans are in full swing. Our general plan is to leave as soon as the kids get out of school and hit the road. You will be able to follow all of our crazy plans and adventures right here!

Yes, I will be homeschooling (or unschooling is more like it) the kids in some fashion and I have no idea how I’m going to get my hair highlighted along the way. To be honest, the latter makes me a little more nervous!

Tune in to get the good along with the bad, and hopefully be inspired along the way!

 Amy